In Greek mythology, Penelope (in Homer Πηνελόπεια Pênelópeia, in later authors Πηνελόπη Pênelópê), daughter of Icarios, is the faithful wife of Odysseus, of whom she has a son, Telemachus. She appears for the first time in the Odyssey, where she is presented as the faithful wife par excellence. She stands up to the suitors who want her to remarry one of them and she protects the life of her son. After the return of Ulysses, Penelope, cautious, cunning to ensure that it is really her real husband. This vision of the character remains the most influential of the versions of the myth found in ancient Greek and Roman authors.
After Antiquity, Penelope appears frequently in the numerous rewritings of the Odyssey and more generally in the artistic representations inspired by the myths related to the Trojan War.
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Ancestry and youth
Penelope is the daughter of the Spartan king Icarios and, following them, all the ancient authors for whom the father of Penelope is Icadios.
In her youth, and because of her great beauty, Penelope is requested by several Greek princes. Her father, to avoid the quarrels which could have burst between the pretenders, obliges them to dispute the possession of it in games which he makes celebrate. Ulysses being victorious, Penelope is granted to him.
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Events recounted in the Odyssey: absence and return of Odysseus
During the twenty years of absence of Ulysses, during and after the Trojan war, Penelope keeps a fidelity to him against all solicitations. After the end of the war, when Ulysses delays abnormally to return and starts to pass for dead, the beauty and the throne of Penelope attract to Ithaca one hundred and fourteen suitors. She always knows how to evade their pursuit and to disconcert them by new ruses. During the sixteenth year of Ulysses” absence, Penelope conceives a ruse consisting in pretending to weave on the loom a large veil, by declaring to the suitors that she will not be able to contract a new marriage before having completed this tapestry intended to wrap the body of her father-in-law Laërte, when he would die. But she never finishes her tapestry, because she undoes at night what she has done during the day. The ruse works for more than three years and allows Penelope to deceive the suitors until shortly before the return of Ulysses.
During the twentieth year of Odysseus” absence, Penelope”s ruse is revealed to the suitors by one of her maids. The suitors gorge themselves on food by plundering the palace”s reserves every day. They increase their pressure on Penelope and plot against the life of Telemachus. Penelope struggles to resist them and despairs to see her husband again. Finally, forced to decide, Penelope imagines to force the suitors to confront each other during a test of archery. In the meantime, Ulysses returns to Ithaca, disguised as a beggar by the goddess Athena in order not to be killed by his enemies. The suitors scorned and abused him, but Telemachus and Penelope welcomed him with kindness. Pénélope had the old servant Euryclée give him a bath and then spoke with him. Ulysses is not immediately recognized, but encourages Penelope to keep hope by affirming that he had recent news of Ulysses and that the latter will soon return.
The next day, Penelope promises to remarry the suitor who will be able to bend Odysseus” bow, and then to shoot an arrow through twelve axe-heads arranged one behind the other. But none of the suitors can even bend Odysseus” bow. Odysseus, still disguised as a beggar, asks to participate in the test. Antinous, one of the most authoritarian and brutal pretenders, protests, but Penelope authorizes the beggar to participate. Telemachus then asks her to return in her room upstairs, which she does; taken of sorrow, she cries her husband whom she believes still absent. Penelope does not attend the victory of Ulysses at the trial of the bow, nor the massacre of the suitors during which Ulysses receives the help of Telemachus and two servants and the protection of the goddess Athena.
When her servants come to tell her that her husband has returned, Penelope refuses to believe him, fearing that she is dealing with an impostor. When she went back down to the great hall to talk with her supposed husband, she was very reserved and did not jump on his neck to kiss him, which indignantly upset Télémaque. Pénélope declares to Télémaque that she developed with her husband some secret signs which must allow them to recognize each other. The two adults ask Telemachus to leave them alone. Penelope then uses a new ruse: she pretends to believe Ulysses, then she orders her servants to go and make up the bed in their room. Ulysses is astonished : he remembers to have built himself an irremovable bed, firmly fixed to the trunk of a tree which crosses the bridal room, and he asks what became of this bed. Pénélope, who lied on purpose, rejoices by recognizing the true Ulysses who, alone, could remember this detail. She then welcomes him with joy. Athena lengthens a little the duration of the night for the occasion. Ulysses warns Penelope of a prophecy of the soothsayer Tiresias according to which he will have one day to set out again for another voyage in order to carry out propitiatory rites able to appease the wrath of the god Poseidon whom he irritated by killing the Cyclops Polyphemus during his voyage. The maids have prepared their bed in the meantime: the couple go to their room and make love after so many years apart, then Odysseus tells Penelope about his adventures.
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After the Odyssey
The Telegonia, an epic of the Trojan cycle now lost but known from summaries, probably composed in the sixth century B.C., told of the life of Odysseus and Penelope after the end of the Odyssey. Odysseus is away on several shorter voyages. Back in Ithaca, Penelope lives peacefully with him until the arrival of a troop of foreign sailors shipwrecked on the coast, who try to plunder the island under their leader, Telegonos. Ulysses rushes to repel them but Telegonos kills him with a spear whose point is a ray sting. Odysseus, in agony, recognizes Telegonos who is none other than a son he conceived with the magician Circe during his long journey. After the death of Ulysses, Telegonos married Penelope.
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In the Odyssey, Penelope has only one child: Telemachus, whose father is her husband Odysseus. In the Telegonia, during Odysseus” second voyage, Penelope gives him another son whose name varies according to the authors: Ptoliporthes according to the Telegonia or Poliporthes according to the Pseudo-Apollodorus.
According to an alternative tradition, Penelope is the mother of the agrarian god Pan. The identity of the father varies according to the authors. She conceived Pan with Apollo according to a fragment of poem found by the archaic poet Pindar. Several authors including the Greeks Herodotus and Pseudo-Apollodorus and the Roman authors Hygin and Cicero indicate Hermes as father of Pan. The Hellenistic Greek historian Douris of Samos and the commentator of Virgil Servius affirm that in the absence of Odysseus, Penelope sleeps with all her suitors and thus conceives the god Pan. Servius specifies that Ulysses, on his return, finds the child monstrous, flees and resumes his travels. Theocritus, at the beginning of his poem Syrinx, seems to say that Penelope conceived Pan with Odysseus himself.
In the Roman author Hygin, Penelope and Telegonos have a son, Italus, who becomes the eponymous hero of Italy.
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The Telegonia, as we know it from the summary made by Proclos, gave information on the fate of Penelope. After the death of Ulysses, Télégonos, his involuntary parricide son, leaves for the island of Circé with the corpse, taking also Pénélope and Télémaque. There, Circe marries Penelope and Telegonos, and makes them immortal. The Pseudo-Apollodorus gives a very similar account but with a difference: according to him, Circe sends Penelope and Telegonos to the islands of the Blessed. In both cases, Penelope and her second husband have a happy ending, different from the usual fate of mortals.
Pausanias the Periegete reports in his Periegesis a local tradition of the Greek city of Mantinea, in Arcadia. Not far from this city, a mound of earth was shown, which was thought to be the tomb of Penelope. According to this version of the myth, Odysseus, on his return from the Trojan War, discovers that Penelope has been unfaithful to him and banishes her. Penelope then goes to Sparta, her hometown, then she settles in Mantinea where she remains until her death.
The etymology of “Penelope” has been discussed since antiquity. According to some ancient authors, “her name comes from grasping the weft (this explanation is currently still defended tend to consider that the name comes from πηνέλοψ pênélops, which refers to a species of wild duck or goose. Scholies of Pindar relate that Penelope would have been thrown into the sea by her parents; penelopes having rescued her and brought her back to them, they would then have raised her relates a similar episode where Penelope would have been thrown into the sea by Nauplios to avenge the death of his son Palamedes. Some authors have concluded that Penelope was an ancient deity in the form of a bird, but there is no evidence of this, especially since it was common to give women bird names.
Penelope appears in ancient Greek ceramics from the classical period. A red-figured Attic skyphos from Chiusi (Italy), dating from about 430 B.C., shows Penelope sadly accompanied by her son Telemachus on one side, and Odysseus recognized by the servant Euryclea on the other. On side A, the scene shows Penelope sitting on a seat in front of her loom, facing left. She is wearing a long dress and her head is covered by a fold of her clothing. She leans with her right arm on the arm of the seat, rests her head on her hand and has her head bowed with a sad expression. On the left, Telemachus, turned to the right, is looking at Penelope; dressed in a tunic that covers his left shoulder and lets see his right shoulder as well as part of his chest, he holds three spears in his left hand and leans his right hand against his hip. Behind the two figures, the loom, higher than them, shows in its upper part two unfinished webs, while in the lower part, only the warp threads have been put in place (the weft is not yet woven). Side B shows Odysseus being recognized by the old maid Euryclea, who recognizes a particular sign of the hero while she is giving him a foot bath. The painter of this vase was named “Painter of Penelope” in reference to the scene on side A. The vase is kept in the Museo Civico of Chiusi under the reference Chiusi 1831.
Penelope also appears in ancient Greek silverware. She is notably represented on gold rings in the classical period. She is recognizable by her clothes (a long dress, the drape of which covers her legs and one side of which is folded over her head) and her posture: sitting, head bent and leaning against one of her hands. She appears, for example, on an intaglio adorning a gold ring from the last quarter of the 5th century B.C., kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in the cabinet des médailles, in Paris. Some interpretations hesitate between Penelope and the goddess Astarte in the identification of the character.
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In Greek funerary epigrams, which reflect the dominant values of Greek society, implicit or explicit references to Penelope are extremely numerous: the majority of deceased women are presented as model wives and mothers, and they are compared to Penelope in terms of wisdom, restraint and domestic work. Women praised for their artistic gifts and compared to the Muses, or praised for their beauty alone and placed under the sign of Aphrodite, are in the minority. Penelope appears as a figure linked to the work of wool, like the goddess Athena. She can also embody conjugal love by her resistance to remarriage, which alludes to a loving feeling between spouses in a society where love marriage is not the rule. To be equaled or likened to Penelope is the ultimate praise for a woman.
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The poet Ovid imagines in his Eroids a letter sent by Penelope to Ulysses (it is the first letter of the collection). Penelope appears as the model of the loving and faithful wife, who hopes for her husband”s return, but her letter reveals her doubts and fears about her husband”s fidelity and the reasons for his slowness to return home. The poet Propertius mentions Penelope in several of his elegies. The playwright Plautus mentions Penelope in the opening lines of his play Stychus. Penelope also appears in the poets Horace, Martial and Stace.
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Roman figurative arts
The Roman figurative arts, influenced by Greek art, take up many mythological figures, including that of Penelope.
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The model wife
In the Odyssey, Penelope is first defined by her family relationships: daughter of Ikarios, wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus. At the beginning of the epic, she is characterized by her sorrow, her memories and her regrets in the absence of Ulysses. The epic refers four times to her “enduring heart” (“τετληότι θυμῷ,” tetlèoti thumôi) capable of enduring hardship, an expression also used twice to refer to her husband Odysseus. She does not leave the palace and spends most of her time upstairs in her apartments, although she sometimes goes down to the great hall on the first floor, where the suitors and Telemachus are. She shows herself obedient to her son on several occasions, when he orders her to go back up to her room in songs I and XXI.
But Penelope also takes initiatives. She shows herself to the suitors in canto IV where she insults Antinous, the leader of the suitors, and reproaches him for plotting the murder of Telemachus; she shows herself to them a second time in canto XVIII. In chant XVII, she orders the herdsman Eumée to bring the beggar (Ulysses in disguise) to her room to interrogate him and see if he would have news of her missing husband : she talks to him at length in chant XIX. She also takes the initiative of the archery contest in song XXI, an idea that was suggested to her by Athena : she goes herself to the treasure room to look for the weapon, explains the rules of the contest and supervises the setting up of it by her servant Eumée. But when she intervenes to try to authorize the beggar to participate in the contest, she is sent back to her room by Telemachus, who himself authorizes Odysseus to participate in disguise, which marks the beginning of the massacre of the suitors. Finally, she does not follow the advice of her maids or of Telemachus who are convinced that it is indeed Ulysses who is back : she takes the time to make sure by herself that he is indeed her real husband. After their reunion, Ulysses and Penelope resume their traditional roles of husband and wife: he entrusts her with the task of watching over the wealth that the suitors have not squandered while he himself considers going on raids to compensate for the losses suffered by his herds while the suitors devoured his property.
The Odyssey thus gives Penelope the image of a model wife, who follows the traditional role of the wife in the Greek world. In Canto XXIV, the shadow of Agamemnon, in the Underworld, praises the “blameless Penelope” as a “good woman” and believes that Odysseus, by marrying her, has acquired “great virtue.
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The Odyssey uses the Homeric epithets “περίφρων” (periphrôn) (50 occurrences) and “ἐχέφρων” (ékhéphrôn) (8 occurrences), which mean “wise”, about Penelope. In Canto II, the suitor Antinous, after relating the weaving trick, states that:
Suzanne Said believes that the epic conceives Penelope as a female figure capable of serving as a counterpart to the “cunning Odysseus”. According to her, Penelope shows herself to be the equal of Ulysses in her distrust and endurance. According to Françoise Frontisi-Ducroux, Penelope is endowed with mètis (she deploys it both in the ruse of weaving and unweaving and in the “bed test” where she verifies Odysseus” identity by referring to his work as a carpenter (since it was he who made their nuptial bed).
Penelope”s ruse of weaving Laërte”s shroud by day and undoing it by night has given rise to several divergent analyses. According to Mactoux, the ruses of Penelope differ from those of Ulysses by their lack of effectiveness: as soon as the suitors discover the ruse, Penelope returns to her starting point and the ruse is useless. According to Scheid and Svenbro, the activity of weaving is here mobilized in its premarital role: the repeated act of making and unmaking the cloth symbolizes Penelope”s hesitation about the possibility of remarrying one of the suitors. Other commentators believe, on the contrary, that the ruse is indeed effective. For Alain Christol, Penelope”s ruse does work: she simply seeks to gain time to allow her husband to return indicates that Penelope is “the only woman, apart from the goddess, who metaphorizes the beautiful works by applying them to the art of the ruse.
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In Renaissance Europe, particularly in sixteenth-century England and the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1588-1603), Penelope is cited in edifying literature for women as an exemplum, a moral example offering a model of the qualities expected of a good wife. Works such as Natale Conti”s Mythology or Explanation of Fables (1551), Boccaccio”s De Claris Mulieribus or Robert Greene”s Penelopes Web (published in 1587, in which Penelope is compared to a “crystalline mirror of feminine perfection”) emphasize her fidelity and wisdom to the detriment of other aspects of the character that appear in the Odyssey, such as her cunning. Moreover, they only mention weaving as a feminine manual activity, without linking it to the trick of unweaving the cloth, and even less to Penelope”s lies aimed at deceiving the suitors. The turn of the 17th century and the end of Elizabeth”s reign coincide with a questioning of ancient moral examples: some references to Penelope begin to question her fidelity, or to present her attitude as an excess to be avoided rather than an example to be followed. Shakespeare makes a brief reference to Penelope in his tragedy Coriolan, where Virgilia, who refuses to go out and wants to stay sewing until her husband returns, is reproached by Valeria for her stubbornness in wanting to “be another Penelope”.
In France, in 1684, the abbot Charles-Claude Genest creates a tragedy Pénélope where he describes the heroine as full of modesty; the aesthetics of the play aims at pleasing the religious party close to Bossuet. He borrows from the poetic genre of the elegy to work the motive of the tears, by making the sorrow of Pénélope one of the great stakes of his play. He brings forward the moment of recognition between the spouses before the massacre of the suitors: it is only once the spouses are reunited and Penelope”s grief has dissipated that Ulysses can take back his throne by force.
In the twentieth century, Penelope appears in many rewrites of the Odyssey that establish a game of similarities and differences with the ancient epic. In the Irish writer James Joyce”s novel Ulysses, published in 1922, the couple formed by Molly and her husband Leopold Bloom refers to the mythological couple of Penelope and Odysseus. The thirteenth and final chapter of the novel focuses on Molly, whose thoughts are detailed in monologue form. In his 1930 novel Birth of the Odyssey, the French writer Jean Giono imagines the return of a fearful Odysseus. Penelope took lovers among the suitors and she lives with Antinous by squandering the wealth of her absent husband. Ulysses, by boasting, presents himself in an inn as a man who knew Ulysses and he begins to lend to himself all kinds of adventures as extraordinary as false. As he goes along, he embroiders more and more on his story, and ends up returning home with a largely idealized reputation. Antinous dies by chance by falling off a cliff and Penelope welcomes her husband by pretending to have always been faithful to him.
The character of Penelope also gives rise to feminist-inspired rewrites. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, several authors conceive rewrites of the Odyssey choosing Penelope as the main character or even adopting her point of view, often focusing on her life in Ithaca during Odysseus” absence and how she manages to resist her suitors. In 1952, the Spanish playwright Antonio Buero Vallejo published the play La tejedora de sueños (The Weaver of Dreams), which dramatizes Penelope”s wait. The Galician poet Xohana Torres dedicates her poem Penelope to the heroine, from a feminist perspective. From the second half of the twentieth century, several Central American women poets appropriate the figure of Penelope in their writings. Among them, the Salvadoran poet Claribel Alegría completely reinvents Penelope in her poem Carta a un desterrado (first published in the collection Variaciones en clave de mi in 1993) by subverting her two ancient qualities, fidelity and wisdom: Penelope writes to Odysseus to indicate that she has replaced him, challenging the straitjacket in which the Greek customs enclosed her. In his novel Ithaca for ever (Itaca per sempre), published in 1997, the Italian writer Luigi Malerba alternates the narrative voices of Odysseus and Penelope and gives great importance to the latter: he considers that when Odysseus returned, Penelope immediately recognized him despite his disguise as a beggar, but that she pretended not to suspect anything and to distrust him in order to make him pay for his love affairs. In 2005, the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood published The Penelopiad, an autobiography narrated in the Underworld by the souls of Penelope and twelve of her handmaidens; the novel imagines Penelope”s life from her childhood until her death. In 2012, Nunia Barros published Nostalgia de Odiseo (Nostalgia for Odysseus). In 2014, Tino Villanueva published So Spoke Penelope (Thus Spoke Penelope).
Penelope appears in the series of comics for young people Télémaque written by Kid Toussaint and drawn by Kenny Ruiz.
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From the Middle Ages onwards, many paintings take passages from the Odyssey as their subject to represent Penelope. Many show her weaving, alone or with her maids. In 1912, the British Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse painted Penelope and the Pretenders, a painting showing Penelope busy spinning wool and refusing to pay attention to the pretenders who are trying to attract her attention through the palace window.
Other painters show the ruse of the shroud woven by day and secretly unraveled each night. Around 1575-1585, the Italian painter Leandro Bassano painted a Penelope shown alone at her loom secretly unraveling the cloth by candlelight. In 1785, Joseph Wright of Derby painted the same subject on Penelope Unravelling Her Web by Lamp Light, where Penelope is engaged in her ruse while watching over the sleeping young Telemachus. In this painting, the loom and the shroud being woven are not shown: only a ball of thread that Penelope is rewinding symbolizes the ruse. On the left, near Penelope, sits Argos, the dog who, in the Odyssey, is the first to recognize Odysseus on his return despite his disguise. The right third of the painting is occupied by a statue of a warrior leaning on his spear, which remains largely in the dark: it recalls the memory of the absent Odysseus. Penelope is also represented by other Pre-Raphaelite painters like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Roddam Spencer Stanhope.
The waiting for Penelope is the subject of other paintings. Around 1514, the Italian Domenico Beccafumi painted Penelope, showing the heroine standing, spindle in hand, near a column in the palace of Ithaca, looking towards the horizon with confidence. In 1724, the French painter Louis Jean François Lagrenée depicts Penelope reading a letter from Ulysses: Penelope, seated at a richly decorated table on a terrace of the palace, is reading a letter under the gaze of a servant and a young boy looking like Eros.
The different stages of the reunion between Penelope and Odysseus are also represented on several occasions. In the 18th century, the painter Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein painted an Odysseus and Penelope showing the face to face meeting between Penelope and Odysseus disguised as an unrecognizable beggar, as it is staged in the Homeric epic. Angelika Kauffmann painted in 1772 Penelope awakened by Euryclea, a painting showing the old maid Euryclea about to wake Penelope. The painting is inspired by the XXIIIth song of the Odyssey, when the maid pulls Penelope out of the sleep in which the goddess Athena had plunged her during the whole fight between Odysseus and the suitors. Around 1508-1509, the Pinturicchio painted a picture showing Penelope in the palace installed at her loom and facing several men who enter the palace, while on the horizon is visible a ship. The painting is interpreted either as the return of Ulysses or as a confrontation between Penelope and her suitors. At the top left of the painting, Ulysses” bow and quiver are hanging from one of the uprights of the loom: they recall the archery test. In 1563, Primaticcio, an Italian Mannerist painter, painted a Ulysses and Penelope showing the two spouses sitting in bed, probably after their reunion.
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Several sculptors made statues of Penelope which generally show her expressing, by her posture, her expectation of Odysseus” return. In 1873, the sculptor Leonidas Drosis (en) sculpted a Penelope dressed in a full dress, a diadem and a veil, sitting on a seat, holding her spindle and her thread, but letting herself go back a little and looking in the vague, as if immersed in her thoughts. In 1896, Franklin Simmons sculpted a marble Penelope also sitting on a seat. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle sculpted a standing Penelope leaning her cheek against one of her hands, staring off into the distance.
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Penelope appears as the main character in Claudio Monteverdi”s opera Il ritorno d”Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland), premiered in Venice in 1640, and as the heroine of several operas: Niccolò Piccinni”s Penelope (premiered in 1785) and Gabriel Fauré”s Penelope (1913)
The French singer Georges Brassens composed a song called Penelope, in which he evokes the desires of Penelope probably tempted to take lovers in the absence of Odysseus.
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Penelope appears as a secondary character in most peplums inspired by the Odyssey. In Ulysses by Mario Camerini, an Italian film released in 1954, Penelope is played by Silvana Mangano and appears pugnacious against the suitors who try to seduce her. In the same film, the same actress also plays the magician Circe who tries to seduce and bewitch Odysseus during his journey home.
Other films use allusions to Penelope and her myth to make rewrites. In The Love of Penelope, a silent short film directed by Francis J. Grandon in 1913, the story takes place in a contemporary American setting. Penelope Blair, engaged to a promising suitor, is involved in a traffic accident that leaves her seemingly disabled for life. Her fiancé chooses this moment to break off their engagement, but Penelope will find true love with another man. In the Coen brothers” O”Brother, an American film released in 2000 that is loosely based on the Odyssey and transposes its events in a humorous form to the United States of the 1920s and 1930s, Penelope becomes Penny, a woman of strong character. Her husband, Ulysses Everett, left home not to go to war but because he was sentenced to the penitentiary for illegally practicing law. Penny has divorced him and is engaged to another man. When she returns, Ulysses Everett has a hard time convincing her that he is not a good-for-nothing.
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In the Italian mini-series The Odyssey directed in 1968 by Franco Rossi, Penelope is played by the Greek actress Irene Papas. The plot follows very closely that of the ancient epic.
The Franco-Italian-Portuguese television series Odysseus, broadcast in France on the Arte channel in 2013, details the events in Ithaca during Odysseus” absence, then those following his return. Penelope, played by Caterina Murino, plays an important role in the plot: she must first resist the suitors who try to seduce her and then discredit her, and later she must face an Odysseus metamorphosed by the war into a paranoid and impulsive tyrant, who is no longer the man she loved.
Penelope appears in the French-German animated series L”Odyssée created by Marie-Luz Drouet, Bruno Regeste and Claude Scasso and first broadcast in France in 2002. At the beginning of each episode, she weaves a different tapestry announcing the theme of the episode and the adventure lived by her husband in the episode. Her suitors do not appear in the series, except in the last episode where she is forced to remarry, before being saved by Ulysses and Telemachus.
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Penelope gave its name to an asteroid of the main belt discovered by Johann Palisa in 1879: (201) Penelope. Its name was also given to a crater of Tethys, one of the moons of the planet Saturn.
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The etymology of Penelope”s name, often related to a bird”s name (see above), led the German zoologist Blasius Merrem to use the name of the heroine to baptize in 1786 a genus of birds, the genus Penelope, South American birds of the family Cracidae.
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The figure of Penelope is taken up again in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries by the currents of feminist ideas. A whole part of her representations in the arts during this period is part of this approach (see above). But Penelope also provides a name and a symbol for several women”s associations in the second half of the 20th century. Among them is the feminist press agency Les Pénélopes, created in 1996 and dissolved in 2004. The name Penelope was also given to a journal of women”s history and anthropology published from 1979 to 1985, which took an activist approach within the academic world.
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The myth of Penelope has given rise, in sociological or political writings, to the idea of “Penelope syndrome”, qualifying a person who works, voluntarily or not, consciously or not, to undo his own work.
Penelope syndrome also refers to a form of encephalopathy.
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Scholarly studies on Penelope in antiquity
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On the reception of the myth of Penelope and its rewritings after Antiquity
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